The sound of the firefight had become fainter and fainter as he had stalked through the dimly lit corridors of the battered and nearly abandoned Corsair base. Trying to find a way around the hastily erected barricades and piles of dead bodies, he had slowly and silently strayed away from the main area of conflict, the heavily contested central hallway of the section, in his search for a viable route through the maze of corridors.  

Veteran Brother Marine Ludovicus Beyaert knelt down and, holding his bolter and chainsword loosely in his gauntleted hands, he lowered his head and calmly listened for any signs of the enemy. Just like he had done on hundreds of battlefields, in his long service with the Fiery Lions chapter of the Adeptus Astartes. The din of battle had been growing stronger again for the last couple of minutes and he knew he was nearing the end of this hunt.  

Nimbly, he got up and surprisingly silent, moved towards the source of the sound; the traitor position at junction 17D134F, which was covering the entire southern part of hallway 17D with heavy weapons. His kill team had already lost 3 battle brothers in an attempt to storm the position. The zeal and courage of his brothers had once again proven to be more than admirable, but the unobstructed field of fire, which the hundred plus meters of hallway provided the traitors, had taken its toll nonetheless. Bogged down behind makeshift cover, his squad, joined by kill team Gamma, had found themselves in a stalemate and were quickly running out of options. 

None of his brethren had noticed his silent departure from their position. He had glimpsed the very reason for his being there, on the other side of the barricades down the hall. It had made him leave and follow his chapter’s path of reckless abandon. The path, which the Legio had tried so hard to curb, during his six months with that venerable institution. Even if they had been successful though, he still had his orders, given to him by the Admiral himself when he was sent to join the Legio. He was bound to these actions by oaths and instincts stronger than any training he had been given afterwards. He was a Fiery Lion first… 

Beyaert sniffed the air. They were close now. The sounds of battle were starting to become earsplitting once more, as he neared the intended junction. The deafening roar of autocannons and heavy bolters only 30 meters and one corner away was the reason he didn’t hear his own hunter coming up behind him until it was almost too late. Beyaert, kneeling down on one knee again, gathering himself for the final stalk, saw the shift of a shadow in the blinking red alarm lights of the darkened passageway and instinctively rolled to his right. The massive axe, aimed at his head, barely missed his left shoulderpad as he moved, but clipped  his bionical lower right leg. As he rolled away from the onslaught, the delicate feed from his leg up into his cortex told him that the blow, which would have severed a living limb, had done no real damage. 

Beyaert came up to a combat stance, a mere two meters away from his would-be slayer. The giant of a man, in battered, once proud blue Powerarmor, which had been crudely and incompletely painted over with a gory red, twisted his axe out of the grating of the floor panels and stood, sizing up his opponent. His menacing, twisted rebreather had once been an integral part of his helmet -the rest of it missing- but was now deformed in a frozen, malicious snarl, caked with what looked like dried blood. It probably was. The bare, enormously muscular arms bore the marks of constant self-mutilation in the form of rows upon rows of scars, some recent cuts on the lower arms dripping dark blood on the worn metal of the floor. 

With a roar, the brute lunged at Beyaert, hacking his axe in a short swing at the place where moments before his neck had been. The Fiery Lion, anticipating the attack, started his move the very moment the weapon began its potentially fatal arc, switching on his chainsword as he twisted away from the axe. His shoulderpad touched and rolled along that of his opponent in his move which momentarily presented him with the back of his unbalanced foe. Pulling his chainsword down over the crudely repaired backpack, he severed a number of cables and kicking out, sent the blood frenzied traitor several meters forward, where he finally regained his balance and turned around. 

Now it was Beyaert’s turn to attack and swung his roaring chainsword in a high arc towards his opponent’s pallid, bald cranium but the massive axe struck up and blocked the descending weapon with ease. Having used his trusted sword as bait, Beyaert jabbed the muzzle of his bolter into the stomach of the crazed psychopath and pulled the trigger. 

The bolt penetrated the relatively weak abdominal armor and buried itself deep in the traitor’s gut. Dark blood spurted out of the entry wound as Beyaert stepped away. His assailant staggered backwards, into the bright white square of light, shining in from the side corridors, one of which lead towards the contested junction to the left. The axe head scraped over the metal floor, held by one unsteady hand as the other reached for the ragged, two inches wide hole, aortal blood spouting through the grasping fingers. Already it began to clog, closing the wound and turning the puddle on the floor beneath from dark red liquid to an almost black sticky mess in seconds. 

As the traitor recomposed himself, steadying his stance, he once again lifted his axe, bloodshot eyes, full of burning hate, locked on his nimble opponent. For the second time he charged, swinging the mighty weapon with only his right hand. Beyaert parried the swing with ease, his opponent’s reflexes dulled by the near fatal wound in his abdomen. The roaring chainsword bit into the haft of the axe, just below the massive blade, and with a protesting shriek and a shower of blazing sparks, the adamantium teeth cut through the rusted metal of the blood-covered weapon, the head of the axe clanging loudly on the floor. The disarmed traitor clawed at Beyaert’s face with his left hand, still covered in his own blood. Leaping back, Beyaert swung a second time. The Fiery Lion’s chainsword cut through the unarmored lower arm, sending the amputee staggering back again, in obvious disbelief and shock. 

This was taking too long.  

The traitor, once again standing in the bright light from the corridor to the left, raised both his arms as blood frenzy drenched the last shred of control in his warped mind. Beyaert intently strode forward towards his dying foe. 

Blood for the bl…’ 

Beyaert smacked the magazine of his bolter down between the eyes of the crazed traitor with enough force to break his skull. While the finally dead Corsair slumped to the ground, the Fiery Lion didn’t even break his stride as he passed the corpse, rounding the final corner to his target. 

There they were; 30 meters away, six of them -his quarry amongst them- firing an autocannon and a heavy bolter down hallway 17D, pinning his brethren. As the oxy-phosphorous gel in the bolter-round embedded in the dead berserker behind him finally erupted into flame, he reactivated his chainsword. He halted his stride and bellowed the Fiery Lions’ battle cry; ‘Emperor’s will, Lion’s wrath!’, followed by the customary roar of defiance, at the top of his lungs. 

The traitors down the hallway finally took notice of what had transpired so close to their, now unprotected, left flank and turned their attention to this unexpected target, too close for comfort already. The heavy bolter lazily swung in his direction, the autocannon more cumbersome on its mount. The rest of the traitors lunged forward to get to grips with, what they believed to be, an easy target. Already, his brethren in corridor 17D were firing at the crumbling defense, no doubt charging in that very moment.  

Sprinting the remainder of the distance between him and his enemies, Beyaert focused his attack on the one traitor he had come to seek out and as bolter rounds screamed past him, he swung his chainsword at the blood red armor, which still had patches of bright orange shining through…